The ability to control and monitor critical plant from a smartphone or tablet computer is proving highly beneficial to plant production, management and maintenance personnel alike. SCADA systems are now able to support this current advance in industrial control, as Paul Hurst of Products4Automation (P4A) explores.
Smartphones, tablet computers and other similar mobile devices have quickly become commonplace in everyday life, so much so that it is now difficult to imagine what the world would be like without them. For many people they are nothing more than an aid in their personal life, but for increasing numbers they are a vital productivity tool for their professional responsibilities. In the industrial world, engineers are now able to use popular mobile devices to access SCADA systems.
The convenience of being able to monitor and control production processes remotely, even while travelling, opens up many new possibilities for plant operators. Perhaps most notably it could lead to significant improvements in overall productivity and profitability because alarms and issues triggered by set parameters can be addressed more quickly, improving up-time, reducing costs and increasing OEE for vital equipment.
Importantly, it also opens up access to web-based Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), thus providing access to high level information and functions.
Such capabilities are now offered by Automation Platform.NExT, the latest SCADA platform produced in Italy by Progea and available in the UK via Products4Automation (P4A) of Sutton Coldfield.
Developed over many years, Automation Platform.NExT is constantly updated based on the real experiences of users worldwide and their expectations for next-gen features and performance. One of its fundamental design objectives is that the software is future-proofed so that it can provide a long working life and easily integrate with emerging technologies. This in turn means that the modular platform can easily adapt to users developing control and automation needs and aspirations.
Transparency and flexibility are also important attributes of Automation Platform.NExT as they enable users to easily achieve optimum solutions for functions such as HMI outputs, supervisory control, MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems), and data logging for traceability and analysis. Furthermore, the software’s modular design provides the versatility and flexibility needed to achieve bespoke designs that are able to evolve with ever-changing user requirements.
High levels of connectivity allow the software to communicate with related systems, such as enterprise management systems, remote sister plants and, increasingly, to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and even to augmented reality tools.
Perhaps chief amongst the connectivity options is the ability to communicate with an array of mobile devices. Engineers and other professionals are no longer required to spend large parts of their working day either at their own desks or at a small number of other static locations. Their roles are changing and becoming more varied, thus they are increasingly required to travel to different locations.
In this past this would have meant they were uncontactable and out of touch with their plant and control system. With the introduction of Progea’s Automation Platform.NExT and a smartphone, they can be contacted virtually anytime, anywhere and similarly can check on their plant just as freely.
Usable with the latest and emerging automation technologies, Automation Platform.NExT is helping to unlock the full power of the IIoT, Industry 4.0 and Big Data via the Cloud, thus allow it’s users to take efficiency and profitability to the next level.